Who We Are

Terri Hozhabri and Laurie Tilley have been close friends for more than 30 years. When both started to have kids and raise their families, they pledged to have a regular get-together every Tuesday so they wouldn’t lose touch.

On one of these Tuesdays, Terri told Laurie that she felt they were being called to do something, but she didn’t know what. Both decided to keep their ears and eyes open for more direction.

Terri’s vision crystallized one day while in a meeting with her child’s school counselor. The counselor pointed out a couple of kids in the hallway who had on shoes way too small for their feet. Terri told Laurie about it, and the two went and bought the kids shoes that would fit.

After dropping the shoes off at school, Terri began to wonder: “How many other Tulsa children need essentials like proper-fitting shoes?”

Terri and Laurie developed the idea of a grassroots network that could help schoolkids with basic needs. They floated the idea with some of their friends and received a great response. Terri approached Tulsa Public Schools with the proposition, and TPS agreed to do a trial run with three TPS schools. Counselors from these schools would identify needs of specific children and relay this information to Terri, Laurie and their network of friends, who purchased the items and delivered them to the school.

Project Elf was born.

From three schools and thirty volunteers, Project Elf today serves every TPS school (more than 80), some private schools, and has over 800 volunteers, i.e., Elves.

“More than anything, Project Elf is about people saying yes,” says Laurie. “Terri and I are just lucky conduits of people’s generosity. We could’ve sent out those first emails to our friends and received no response, and Project Elf might never have happened. We’ve learned that people are very generous and want to help.

“Our business model is this: There’s a need, and we fill it. It’s that simple.”


To promote a positive learning experience and level the playing field for students in grade school through high school by ensuring basic needs are met, including but not limited to shoes, uniforms, outer garments, school supplies, backpacks, and personal hygiene products.

Project Elf is a 501(c)(3) agency.
Board Members
Terri Hozhabri, Co-founder
Project Elf Executive Director
Laurie Tilley, Co-founder
EVP, Brand Strategy, Littlefield Brand Development
Dr. Diane Hensley
Director of Community Schools in Tulsa, OK
Aimee Mehl
Kingmaker PR
Sherry Nelson
Director, Ethics and Compliance, WPX Energy
Pat Hinson
RISE Program Learning Resources Coordinator, Marquette Catholic School